Are you worried that your children do not like learning as much as you would want them to? Is their disinterest in learning hurting their grades? Are you trying to figure out how you can motivate them to engage in learning, both in mainstream learning and general-knowledge skills?
Well, if you checked all the boxes, then you are in the right place. We will help you with actionable tips that you can employ in helping your kids to love learning.
From the onset, it is essential to note that humans learn by listening, observing, exploring, and experimenting, all in that order. What you say to your kids, what your kids see you do, and what you allow them to explore and experiment on determines whether or not they learn something new. How you answer their questions is also a key contributor to how well the kids perceive school and learning as a whole.
Do you need to be an academician in order to help your children in learning? Well, you will be happy to know that helping your kid to love learning doesn’t call for you to be a qualified teacher or an extremely learned person. All that is needed is an undying commitment and willingness to take more responsibility for their learning.
When you fail to teach your kid to love learning, what you are doing leads him/her not to like learning. After all, your kids learn continuously from you every day, whether you commit to teaching them or not. If you have a negative attitude towards learning, as much as you don’t tell the kid to develop a negative attitude, they will naturally copy it from you.
Before we look at how you can help your kid to love learning, here is a question that we need to answer first:
How is early learning important for development?
We answer this question because many parents make the mistake of assuming that what matters most in their children’s educational life is their high school and college education. What these parents fail to know is that early learning is critical in the academic future of every child.
Early learning is the foundation of lifelong learning.
If you teach your kid to love learning right from 2 years old, it is doubtful that they will hate education ever in their lives. Early learning aids your kid’s brain development and provides a strong base for their lifelong learning abilities.
Their adulthood emotional well-being is pegged on their childhood mental development.
When you help your kid to love learning, what you are doing is shaping their future social and emotional life. Kids can hold more information than adults. They can learn new skills faster than grownups. If you fail to teach them these skills now, they might struggle to find their career path or even fight for their place in society later in life.
Learning is critical in their social life now.
Forget about their future life for a moment and think of their life now. When your kids advance their language and motor skills, for example, they are able to interact more productively with their peers and to make friends easily. They are able to express their feelings better, either to you as their parent or to any other adult in their life.
What is your role in the learning process?
This is another question that we need to answer as it will form the foundation on which we will build our case later on. Please note that a child’s education starts at home. You are your child’s first and most trusted teacher. If no learning is taking place at home, teachers at school might struggle to motivate or inspire your kid through his/her educational journey.
Your encouragement, concern and support are crucial in the success of your child’s education. How you shape their character right from a tender age will contribute enormously to their learning scale. With that in mind, let’s now dive right into our main focus and look at the things you can do to help your children to love learning.
Provide them with lots of books.
Reading is the backbone of successful learning. It is universally accepted as the primary source of educational information. It is fine to read stories to your toddler, but when they are old enough to read on their own, ensure that there are enough books at their disposal. If you can gift them with a library card as early as 5-10 years old, their reading progress is better.
Buy educational videos for them.
Instead of banning digital screens in your households, why not leverage your child’s love for screens to help him/her learn? Especially in the time of Covid-19, when your kid is probably stuck inside, this might be the most suitable time to leverage quality content online. There are millions of videos on both online and offline platforms filled with valuable, easy-to-consume information. Take videos for K-5 students, for example. These videos improve your child’s learning experience by making it fun and satisfying. Some of these videos tend to be expensive or you can not find them free online. However, if one of your friends has bought them for their kids previously, they can send them to you as zip files bypassing any download problems.
Help them discover their innate passion and talents.
Even the kids who hate learning must have a topic of interest that you can use to spark a love of learning in them. This interest is innate, so you have to find natural ways of bringing it out. One way of doing this is inquiring from your child about what he would love to watch, read or talk about.
Take the kid to the zoo, theater, museums, fashion shows, and any place that you feel would expose him or her to new experiences. Ensure that he watches documentaries on as many topics as possible and reads books from as many career fields as possible. The key is to give the kid many choices to choose from as you observe which topics interest him/her most. You will eventually find and spark your child’s interests.
Instead of rewarding learning, let learning be the reward.
Giving treats to your kindergartner when he/she learns something new is fine, but then it can set a bad precedent. The kid can get the wrong idea that if he is not in the mood for a treat, there is no need to learn. That is why it is better to substitute the treats with the promise of more learning opportunities.
For example, promise your kid that if he identifies the species of as many birds, animals, and trees that you encounter during your next nature walk together, you will buy him a documentary on birds or wild animals. Another example is promising to take your child to a performance theater if he writes a poem or a creative story. If she completes a book on astronomy, promise to buy her a book about outer space.
Bottom line: Every achievement should be rewarded with more learning opportunities.
Be your child’s student.
Kids are always happy to share their newfound knowledge; and who is a better person to share it with than their favorite person- the parent? Your kid will be incredibly proud and happy when you give them an audience or an opportunity to teach you something, “you obviously don’t know.” Of course, you were in elementary school as well and learned everything she’s teaching you, but you should refrain from bursting her bubble.
Ask the kid questions and thank her for “explaining stuff” to you. If they want to sing for you or demonstrate their science project to you, sit patiently through the entire presentation, and ask relevant questions. That will encourage them to learn more just so that they have more to “teach” you the next day.
Read with them as often as possible.
Reading with your child gives him the confidence he needs to read more. It gives him the feeling that you support and love him, so they work hard not to betray your support.
Avoid overscheduling their learning timetable.
Your child spends almost all of her daylight time at school, learning and following tight schedules. With that understanding, you need to help the kid relax when she gets home, even as much as extra after-school learning is encouraged. Help the kid to come up with a nice timetable that allows her enough time to study, do her homework, do a few household chores, and play. Books can be burdening at times.
Identify their weaknesses and help them out.
Maybe your child doesn’t hate learning. It could be that he is challenged in a way that stops him from competing successfully with his peers. Maybe he is stressed, anxious, or he suffers from a learning disorder that you haven’t paid attention to. Be on the lookout for any of these challenges and liaise with his teachers to help the kid out.
Challenge their ability with positivity.
Let’s say that you are teaching your little girl how to ride a bike. She has mastered how to turn the handlebars, but she is struggling to master the art of cycling. How do you challenge their ability without hurting their feelings?
Well, instead of telling her: “you are falling because you keep forgetting to cycle,” try telling her: “Impressive! You are doing so well with the handlebars. You only need to cycle a little more consistently and you are good to go. Can we try that now?”
Give them hands-on experiences.
We mentioned in the introduction that humans learn through observation and experimentation. If your kid has read a book on environmental conservation, sign her up for the next community clean-up exercise. If your child has been asking lots of questions about boats, cars, or planes, take him to a local garage or airstrip and have those questions answered. If your budget allows, you can buy a boat and take him out on a fishing trip.
Try as much as possible to explain the world around them, no matter how complex you perceive it to be.
You will spark your child’s interest and imagination by answering their questions truly, honestly, and in a way they understand. If he is discriminated against at school because his skin color is different from the other kids, for example, don’t try to sweep the topic under the carpet when he brings it up at dinner. Explain racism to him but be careful not to instill fear or hate in him.
Your little girl has seen politicians debate on TV and now she wants to know why they are throwing shade at each other. Do not shut her up or just say: “You won’t understand, sweetheart.” Take your time to give her all the details she needs to know for her age.
Focus on the kid’s effort, not the output.
You will be impeding your kid’s ability to learn if you insist too much on good academic grades. As much as you want them to score highly, avoid reducing learning to mere school grades. Learning is much bigger than the school. Let the kid know that the most important thing is to keep working hard and trying to learn as much as possible. Remind them that what they learn now will help them lead a more fulfilling life in the future, regardless of the grades they score today.
Make the environment conducive for learning.
If the atmosphere at home is unpleasant and chaotic, the kid will be demotivated and disinterested in not only learning but also with life in general. Avoid marriage quarrels and unnecessary discussions regarding your financial status- at least not when the kids are around.
Maintain a positive relationship with the teachers.
Your kid will readily love the people you love. She will respect her teachers more if you keep a good relationship with all teachers, which will consequently help the teachers to educate the kid fruitfully. Attending all parent-teacher meetings will also help you to follow up on your kid’s school progress and address possible challenges early enough.
Be their role model.
Seek out knowledge so that your kids can have a role model in you. Encouraging them to study when you dropped out of college might not be very useful, or if they haven’t seen you read.
Make learning seem like a necessity, not an obligation.
Maybe your kid has a tendency to procrastinate learning activities because, to him, learning is boring and hard. Quit telling that kid: “reading is a must for as long as you live with me”. Instead, try something like: “Sometimes reading is burdening, but it is important to keep learning new things so that you can become a responsible adult in the future. What can I do to help?”
Discover and nurture your child’s learning style.
Some kids are visual learners, meaning that they best learn when information presented to them in the form of images or videos. Such kids are very observant and are very good at remembering what they saw, not much, so what they read. If you have such a kid, it will help if you get him/her educational videos.
Some kids learn best kinesthetically. They need to touch something, move, and use gestures to learn. Some auditory learners learn best through listening. They are good listeners.
Bottom line: Observe your kid knowing his/her unique learning style, and then tailor your learning activities in close alignment to their learning style.
Avoid telling your kid, “I don’t know.”
Your kid will sometimes ask questions that are beyond your scope and skills. You will be tempted to dismiss her or tell her to go ask her teacher, but please don’t do that. You would instead tell her that you aren’t very sure, so you need a little more time to “think.” You can even tell her that you think best when alone so that she can step outside for a while, during which time you find the answer on Google or consult a friend.
In everything that you do, always try to be your child’s best friend. Allow them the room to ask you questions and put their ideas to practice. Please give them the confidence that you will always be there for them whenever they face learning challenges. Lastly, it is crucial to appreciate that helping your children to love learning is not a one-day event. It’s something you will need to do consistently. It takes effort and commitment, but it is all worth it in the end.
–Courtesy of Nora Price